Antonia Labia, Director of The Casa Labia Cultural Centre, provided a brief overview of the building, which was built in 1924 by her grandfather Count Natale Labia (later Prince Labia) as a family residence as well as the official residence of the Italian Ambassador, her grandfather being the first holder of this position in our country. The architectural style of the building is Venetian, and many fittings were imported from Italy. It was designed to impress statesmen, artists, and musicians who visited the residence.Antonia’s father Luccio Labia wanted to open Casa Labia as a Cultural Centre, so that its select works of art could be enjoyed by the public, and so that cultural events could be held there. Father and daughter worked on the renovation and restoration of the building five years ago, to bring the Murano glass mirrors, crystal chandeliers, silk wallpaper, wood floors, and gilded ceilings back to their former glory.
Embracing change, three new uses of the building were announced by Ms Labia.
Casa Labia will house the art collection of the late Peter Clarke, an artist who had lived in Simonstown, and who loved visiting Casa Labia for its art exhibition openings, and to be inspired by the works of art displayed in the building. A work by Gerard Sekoto had special meaning to him. From the Peter Clarke Archive & Collection a select number of works will be displayed on a rotating basis. A print gallery has been added, and currently houses prints by artists who were friends of Clarke. Art classes and teacher workshops in printmaking techniques are planned.
The downstairs area will be transformed into the new Cucina Labia restaurant, which will be run by Dish Food & Social. A table heaving with food was set up in one of the rooms, and offered a taste of what the catering company is capable of – sliced ham, salmon, artisanal breads, salads, raclette cheese, beef slices on potato canapés, slabs of chocolate smothered in cherries and strawberries, and tiramisu.
A third dimension of the evening was the announcement that Casa Labia as a whole, or specific rooms, are available for events such as weddings, baby showers, birthday celebrations, and more. The event organizers for the evening were the trio from Vula Afrika, a new events company recently created by Ian Manley, Aubrey Ngcungama, and Julie Killias. Julie created a most beautiful table display in the private dining room, dominated by flowers, to show how special a room dressed by her can be for an event.
As a Cultural Centre Casa Labia will host classical and jazz concerts. Casa Labia is a celebration of food, art, music, and culture, all with a wonderful view over False Bay.
Disclosure: On our departure we were offered a choice of imported chocolate slabs and Werther’s Original to take home.
Casia Labia, 192 Main Road, Muizenberg, Cape Town. Tel (021) 788 6068 www.casalabia.co.za Tuesday – Sunday.
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.whalecottage.com/blog Tel 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@WhaleCottage Facebook: click here